Saturday, 10 March 2018

Little Boxes Made of Ticky Tacky

Dignity restored.

It's been a fortnight since the Beast from the East swept in during our Great Migration.

As with every move, something vital isn't in the box I thought it was, my favourite (insert household item) doesn't fit, & there's a list of niggling repairs to compile for the agent.

But with the snow gone, every afternoon, you'll find me in the garden.

1.  Potting shed.

Our previous houses've had multiple outbuildings - sheds, garages, sometimes even an apple store or outdoor flush toilet.  Our new place had this:

A bit of fencing propped on top of a slide.

But alas, this fine structure wasn't for us - the landlord hauled it away.  (The proper shed in the photo belongs to my neighbour.  Note the terraces for later.)

Levelling the base area.

Our potting shed'll go in the same place.  I chose plastic over a cement or stone base so we can take it with us when we move (hopefully to our forever home, this time). 

There's about 4" of loose, dry topsoil, then paving stones underneath.  Might've saved a quid or two if I'd poke around a bit first.  On the other hand, not sure how even the pavers are.  Once I realised they were there, I worked on smoothing the topsoil rather than digging them out.

A weed barrier goes under this grid, but for now, it's easier to put it in place & get it level, rather than measuring & remembering the math.

2.  Abscondment explained.

Besides abandoning their survivalist's shed, the amount of stuff left in the house suggests the previous tenants did a runner.  When levelling the shed space, I found critical evidence to explain this dead-of-night departure.

The murder weapon.

My family remains unimpressed.  One callous soul even reminded me of the bones I dug up in a previous garden, how they also set my mind to murder.  Turned out, I'd unearthed someone's dead dog. 

Imagination's like a muscle, you know.  Gotta exercise it.

3.  Fennel

We've never had a terraced garden before.  It'll probably become our veg patch, but for the moment, I keep staring at it like a love sick puppy, taking in the details.  Here's a little beauty growing in the masonry.  It smells of anise so I reckon it's fennel.

Growing in the cracks.

4.  Hollyhock

Under one of the trees at the top of the terrace, I found a hollyhock that looked as if someone had yanked it out of the ground & flung it there.  It was still alive, so I tossed it in a trug that had melted snow in the bottom to rehydrate the thing, then forgot about it.

The next day it was still alive, so I stuck it in a nearly empty bag of compost, splinted its broken stem with a Magnum stick & some packing tape, then propped it against the fence. We'll see how it goes.

Patient's recovering well.

5.  Rt Hon Lady BossyBoots

Your one appeared in our back garden unannounced.  A bit forward for a Brit, but not for an Appalachian, so no offense taken.  She asked what trees were in my potted forest.


Before I can open my mouth, she spews a list of her own trees, & why's that fig back here - move it to the front garden, do you feed it there's your mistake, neverfeedafigit'llneverfruit, they love to suffer & that hollyhock's just a wild (dismissive flick of the hand), tiny (grimace) green flower, you won't like it, I have purple hollyhocks I'll give you, granny's bonnets, that's what you need, did you know your house was a cannabis factory?

I'd hoped for murder, but a grow house.  That'll do.

And she was IN my back garden, Mr Propagator, so she counts as one of my Six.

6.  Kickass Compost

Thus explained, the 10 bags of this stuff the last occupants left beside the back door.  Rumour has it the entire crawl space under the house is full of it.  I've not found access to the crawl space yet, but if I do, I'm going in.   


Apparently, it's an hydroponic mix.  I've been researching how to use it in the veg patch.  My initial searches included the word 'cannabis' which led me to blocked sites.  Might have to have a word with our resident hacker.

Until then, does anyone know whether this stuff needs cut to work in the garden or can it be used full test?

Cuttings still hanging in there.

It's been an interesting move.

Best of all, the garden feels good.  A few weeks ago in this very blog, I let loose on hating my garden .  I was only able to do that because we were leaving the damnable place.

Now this week . . . well, during one of my rests, I sat looking at the witch hazel, the last of its crinkly red flowers drying out for seed.  I thought, move that to 11:00 & it'll be perfect.

So I did.  And it was.  This garden feels good.

I'm not alone in this feeling.  If you want to read more gardeners in love with their patch, head over to The Propagator for his & other stories by the half dozen.

See you next week.


  1. This is so funny Lora. Hydroponic compost as vestige of a cannabis farm! Hydroponics is definitely an interesting technique but I sense you're a lady who likes to get her hands dirty in soil.

  2. I do, so I wondered if the compost was suitable for outdoor planting. Someone has suggested that it's a bit acidic, so perhaps adding lime will make it workable. More research ahead!

  3. Look after that BioBizz. Each bag's worth nearly £14 at Amazon! It's organic but low in nutrients. Don't know about use in hydroponics but it would probably make a decent potting-on compost where you want to be able to control the feeding. I doubt it'll be much good in a veg patch other than adding a bit of bulk to the soil which, at nearly £14 a bag, would be a bit wasteful. But I will now have an abiding vision of you doing a Woodentops impression (you may need to look that up), walking round the place going "Bop bop de bop, ickle weeeeed!"

  4. I saw how dear the BioBizz is but if it's only good for potting, it's not really that good, is it? I've dutifully looked up Woodentops, but the cultural reference . . . well, guess I had to be there.

  5. New emerging things (a knife, a fennel, a hollyhock ...), boots, a hydroponic mix, ... so much to discover in your new garden ... and certainly others for next Saturday

    1. Too bad they didn't leave any cannabis, but the landlord brought me wine, so for today at least, I'm sorted.

  6. Love the sense of exploration and discovery in your blog, Lora. Knives and cannabis, exciting times. I bet there are more secrets to reveal.

    1. When I lift the pavers off the terraces, that could be interesting!

  7. That does look like fennel - if it's allowed to flower & set seed, you'll end up with it cropping up everywhere you could possibly think of (although it is quite easy to dig up when it's small, if it's not quite in the right place). I planted mine next to the compost bin to try and cover the smell when the bin lid is removed.

    And I love the DIY splint idea for the Hollyhock - I wouldn't have thought of even attempting to rescue a plant with a broken stem, so I hope it's successful :)

    1. I've used this technique for years, starting w/a tall sunflower that got snapped by the wind. It almost always works, so hopefully it will this time as well.

  8. How exciting exploring your new garden. Looking forward to seeing more in future sixs

  9. Okay, the first thing I thought when I saw the knife was "pot," and the Bio"Buzz" just confirmed that! I don't know why my mind works that way. Wondering why the landlord didn't deal with the fence before you moved in - though I can guess.
    The terraces are promising, looking forward to the "after" photos!

    1. Oh, there are lots of questions, & the answers will all be interesting, for sure.

  10. Lol-- your Six this week made me laugh out loud. The previous owners of my property left me a heap of odds and ends, but not quite as eclectic as what was left on your property. I cannot wait to see what you do with the plot. It looks like it has great potential.

  11. It's got potential in spades, & not much else.

  12. Wonder what would happen if you took a photo of your neighbour..'i would love to include you as a garden exhibit for this blog series I am part of'..would it increase chumminess? Cause her to stay away?

  13. She'd probably want to write the blog herself.